Mixed results for music education hubs, says NFER report
15 April 2015
The music education hubs established by the government three years ago have made good progress but will face persistent challenges as pupil numbers continue to rise, an independent report has concluded.
The hubs were found to be addressing the aspiration to provide every child aged five to 18 with the opportunity to learn a musical instrument, reaching 39.7 per cent of pupils in Year 4 and 15.3 per cent of pupils in Years 1-6.
They were also found to be providing many pupils with opportunities to play and sing in ensembles, with a wide range of ensembles and groups provided in schools and at area level.
Areas highlighted for improvement included the potential for hubs to increase their engagement with special schools and other schools with higher than average proportions of pupils with special needs.
It was also noted that more could be done to encourage boys to take part in ensembles, and that the increasing size of the school population may pose future challenges.
The report said: ‘In conclusion, the hubs have clearly made a strong start in terms of their core roles, especially in relation to the amount and range of provision they offer, which has held steady or increased in their second year of operation.
‘However, they face continued challenges if they are to ensure effective progression and contribute to a high quality music education for an increasing number of pupils in future.’
The music education hubs were created in response to the 2011 National Plan for Music Education to provide access, opportunities and excellence in music education for all children and young people.
The hubs include schools – from primary to further education institutions – professional music organisations and arts organisations. They work in local areas to bring people together to create music education provision for children and young people.
Music teachers sceptical about online tuition, The Tutor Pages report shows
10 April 2015
Music teachers are more sceptical than most other tutors about the idea of online tuition, a report has revealed.
The Tutor Pages, an online directory of UK private tutors for academic, languages and music tuition, carried out a survey of 400 tutors about the pros and cons of online tuition.
Of all the groups surveyed, music teachers (comprising singing and instrumental teachers) were the most likely to think online tuition was not appropriate for their subject.
Among the tutors who identified themselves as teaching exclusively musical instruments or singing, 16 per cent said they used an element of online tuition in their teaching.
Of those who were not using online teaching, 27 per cent said they would like to try it.
However, 81 per cent of music teachers agreed that ‘Technology can never be a substitute for the physical presence of the tutor’.
The respondents cited several barriers to successful online tuition, including the visual and auditory limitations of the internet and the importance of being able to make physical adjustments to posture.
One respondent commented: ‘Music tuition is not just about imparting knowledge and technique. It is about building rapport, friendship and in many cases becoming a mentor and counsellor to the pupils.
‘This is especially true in singing teaching, where the voice is intrinsically linked to the emotions and state of mind of the pupil.’
Another said: ‘Results are certain to be possible but in instrumental teaching they won't compare with being in the same room as a fine teacher.’
Overall, around 80 per cent of respondents said they used Skype to tutor online. These tutors reported a number of advantages, such as flexibility in lesson scheduling and no travel costs.
Youth Music awards £6.8m of funding to education projects across the UK
9 April 2015
Youth Music has announced new grant awards worth £6.8m as part of its recently refreshed grants programme.
The charity has awarded funding to 80 organisations in England supporting a wide range of projects, from a music programme for young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to a choir project for young carers.
Matt Griffiths, chief executive of Youth Music, said: ‘The grant awards will provide thousands of opportunities to support young people’s lifelong engagement with music.
‘Our focus on the development of personal and social skills, as well as musicality, will ensure that many of the participants attending Youth Music projects will have a life-changing experience.’
The grants include awards to 13 strategic partner organisations which will work with Youth Music to help it achieve its aims. They include Sage Gateshead in the North East, which is set to receive £160,000 a year for up to three years.
Steve Jinski, head of youth participation at Sage Gateshead, said: ‘This funding will enable us to provide sustained musical provision for young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity.
‘Our focus will be on those who are not in employment, education or training, those who are looked after and those with special educational needs.
‘It will enable us to make real progress not just in terms of music-making but also in helping participants to become more confident and resilient, qualities that can be carried into all aspects of their lives.’
Other organisations that will receive funding include ADHD Solutions CIC in Leicester, which has been awarded £17,400 for a music project focused on children with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Youth Music supports projects around the country that provide music-making opportunities for children and young people facing significant challenges in their lives.
The charity has recently restructured its grant-making process following a review by Arts Council England, led by Derek Avis, in light of the new National Plan for Music Education.
Two charities awarded 2015/16 Rhinegold Charity Fund
8 April 2015
Drum teacher in angry protest after primary school charges him £80 a month
8 April 2015
A private music teacher from North Yorkshire has spoken out after a primary school began charging him £80 a month to teach on the premises.
Stuart Ellerton, a drum teacher from Darlington, used to teach a regular cohort of children at Whinstone Primary in Ingleby Barwick during school time.
However, last year the school began charging him for the time he spent there. Ellerton has left the school in protest and has spoken to the local press about the ‘damaging and unfair’ charges.
‘I left in protest as I could not continue to be a part of this immoral, ludicrous and grossly unfair practice,’ he told Music Teacher.
‘This is potentially an incredibly dangerous situation. Imagine all Key Stage 2 schools in the country doing this.'
Ellerton said the Musicians' Union had written to Mike Poppitt, headteacher of Whinstone Primary, to inform him that the practice may be illegal.
‘I have been teaching since the age of 18 professionally and have never encountered such an unfair system,' he added. 'I teach at five other schools and even the heads there have expressed their disbelief.’
Ellerton called for a change in the law to ensure the practice does not become widespread. ‘This could put thousands of superb high quality and experienced tutors of music completely out of work, leaving less experienced vultures to pick up the work,’ he said.
Poppitt said Whinstone Primary had a duty to make the best use of its assets and the number of children receiving music lessons in the school was on the increase.
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